Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Sort of like in that movie 'Mean Girls'

I am taking three courses this semester: "Adolescent Development" (which goes towards my psychology major requirements), "Holocaust: Agency and Action" (which goes towards my Jewish studies concentration requirements), and "Experimental Methods in Psychology" (which is a course that every psych major has to take). The norm is to take four classes per semester, but moderate sickness in August slowed me down a bit (literally, because I had mono) and I ended up dropping one course. Three has been manageable, though I am looking forward to taking four classes again next semester.

This week is busy for me; I have two tests, a quiz, and an article analysis due. Article analyses seem to be common in most psychology courses, at least in my experience. I first worried that it would be horribly boring, but in all honesty the topics of study are so intriguing that I often forget that the article is thirty or forty pages. The most recent article that I read for Adolescent Development was about relational aggression: non-physical forms of aggression such as gossiping, rumor-spreading, snubbing, and exclusion. It's categorized by covert, indirect forms of aggression, and it's most common among girls (many participants in the study described it as bitchiness). The two researchers who conducted the study were unique in the way that they included male participants as well as females; past research has been done mainly on females because it is viewed as a "girl thing". Their interviews with boys and girls aged 11-13 concluded that girls and boys experience relational aggression differently; boys experience it mainly in larger groups, and in more direct "in-your-face" ways. Is anyone else reminded of 'Mean Girls'?

Adolescent Development has been a very interesting course because of a few reasons. Articles, such as the one I just mentioned, often serve as a reflection point on past experiences. The professor (Jeffrey Arnett) encourages class discussions based on the material we are studying, and in this way we are able to connect our own experiences to what researchers say is common. The class also takes a cultural approach when examining adolescent development - we study different practices in different cultures, because adolescence is very much so a concept that relies on its society for definition. It has been one of the more interesting courses I've taken, and I do recommend it to psych majors as a way of fulfilling the Developmental (psychology) requirement.

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